CHEROKEE COUNTY — "God bless," Boothe told her.
The "missing dog" scam is one Boothe had tried at least once before. According to information recovered by Jacksonville Police, Boothe circulated "lost dog" flyers in Palestine as well as penning a letter to the editor of the Palestine Herald Press.
In the flyers, Boothe referred to a missing service animal who answered only to "Lil Brother" or "Hey Stupid."
"Please return him," Boothe wrote in the Palestine newspaper. "I just want my baby back."
That was the exact same phrase he used with the Jacksonville paper.
The details were slightly different from the Jacksonville case, but for the most part it was the same basic scam, police believe.
Officers initially had just planned to take Boothe into custody overnight because he was drunk, but that changed after they discovered the stolen birth certificate,
Officers looked into his background and discovered his extensive criminal record, which ranges from aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas; to disorderly conduct in Florida; robbery and burglary out of California; and further charges in New Hampshire, Georgia, and Tennessee.
He had been living behind a local florist shop near Highway 79. In addition to Fuzzy, he also cared for a small black dog. That other dog's status was not immediately available Monday.
Ultimately, when Boothe gets out of jail, authorities hope he drifts on to another area.
Editor Pearson said she refuses to allow this incident to blind her to the mission of the newspaper.
"They say 'no good deed goes unpunished' and this could very well fall under that category," Pearson said. "However, just because Mr. Boothe fooled us into believing his trumped-up tale doesn't mean we still won't rally behind residents of Cherokee County who have a compelling story or who need the community's help in the future.
"As a newspaper, we did our due diligence in confirming as much of Mr. Boothe's story as we were able to at the time."